It seems like only yesterday when one of the Blue Jackets’ biggest offensive threats signed a two-year deal to remain with the team. Heck, it was practically yesterday when Pierre Luc Dubois, or PLD as some call him, signed the two-year, $10 million contract extension. That was New Year’s Eve. Here we are two weeks later and Dubois has asked for a trade. My how things have changed. Frustrated as a fan? You have every right to be.
In the Covid-shortened season last year, Dubois managed to net 18 goals while accumulating 31 assists, just three assists shy from his total the season prior and the man played 12 fewer games last year. Not bad, though his +/- rating dropped significantly last year going from a +16 in the 2018-19 season to -2 in 2019-20. Nevertheless, after three years in the league and possessing the size and skill the Blue Jackets desperately need at center, he is a solid player if nothing else. He may also become the most hated player faster than he signed that contract.
Earlier today, head coach John Tortorella revealed to the media that Dubois is demanding a trade. While this wasn’t completely shocking as Dubois would not address trade questions during the press conference of his contract extension, it leaves an incredibly bad taste in the mouths of fans and perhaps his teammates as well. This notion is only compounded when you take into account the things he said at that press conference. “I’m going to be the best player I can be, the best teammate I can be and the best person I can be,” stated Dubois (NHL.com).
Well, maybe we’re not giving the guy a fair shake. After all, when he said he wanted to be the best teammate he could be, he didn’t say with which team. One with a cognitive organ between their ears would suspect Dubois is referring to the team he had just signed the extension with. Now it looks more like Dubois was trying to cover something with sugar and call it a candy bar that day.
Dubois’ desire to dart from Columbus falls in line with highly-skilled players who have left town such as goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and forward Artemi Panarin. While Bobrovsky’s absence is no longer felt considering the wickedly good goalie tandem the team now has in place, Panarin’s departure still stings. It was documented for some time how Panarin very much wanted the bright lights, big city. Yes, Columbus is a big city, but it’s not NYC big city, which is where he now calls home. But is there more to the story with these guys leaving?
Some are beginning to point fingers at the coach. Tortorella is known to be a drill instructor of sorts, demanding the most out of his players. His intense style of coaching isn’t without results though. He has one Cup to his name and has continually propelled a who’s-that-guy roster in Columbus as a serious contender in the league. Maybe PLD’s persona is the oil to Tortortella’s water. Maybe the yelling shuts him down. Or maybe Dubois just needs to adapt for the greater good.
Possible suitors for PLD have Montreal at the head of the line, who, as you will recall did a trade with the Blue Jackets this offseason when Columbus dealt right wing Josh Anderson for forward Max Domi. If the Jackets were to complete another trade with the Canadiens, the return has numerous question marks. As hinted at earlier, Columbus is short on big centers. They are much harder to come by in the league than a solid netminder and Montreal isn’t exactly a factory for centermen. If and when Dubois gets dealt, the team needs to fill that hole immediately in return. The centers on the Canadiens do not make that happen. They are low goal scorers who cannot compete with the stats of Dubois.
So all of that Montreal talk leads us to the next possibility of why Dubois wants out. John Tortorella does not put a player in a certain position because of their name. Heck, he would make Jesus work for a spot on his team, but that’s the way it should be. Everything is earned, not given. With the arrival of Max Domi from Montreal, now Dubois has the most serious competition he’s faced yet to earn that spot of first-line center.
The list can of catalysts for Dubois to jet from Columbus can go on in debate. Whatever the reason, he has suddenly become a stick in the spokes of the CBJ bike. His trade request will certainly be an elephant in the locker room tomorrow night when the team plays their first game of the regular season. This behavior will be a definite sabotaging of the team’s chemistry and plans for success in the near future.
Way to go, Pierre. Way to go.